The ultimate luxury wristwatches (pictures)

Some people still wear watches, and some of those watches are housed in 18-karat gold and can unlock Aston Martins. We continue our look at uber-opulent gear with a roundup of supershowy timepieces.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Tim Hornyak
Leslie Katz
1 of 11 Romain Jerome

Spacecraft watch

Last week, we dazzled you (and judging from reader comments, disgusted you in some cases) with a roundup of the most opulent smartphones and tablets we've seen.

This week, we continue our series on ultimate luxury entertainment with a small sampling of the glitziest wristwatches (large sums of) money can buy. Earlier this year, Swiss watchmaker RJ-Romain Jerome announced a limited run of offbeat titanium timepieces called Spacecraft, which look like '70s sci-fi props. The minutes are indicated by a black rotating disc on the face, while the hours are displayed by a spring-driven carriage and red cursor on the side. The Spacecraft has 54 jewels. Inside the PVD-coated titanium case is a complex self-winding movement.

How much will this bit of retro-geek chic cost you? A mere $33,400.

2 of 11 Romain Jerome

DeLorean watch

RJ-Romain Jerome also revved up the DeLorean-DNA, manufactured from real DeLorean parts. The watch has a mechanical self-winding movement, 23 jewels, and a rhodiumed and satin-brushed dial, as well as smaller dials with chronograph functions. There's also an engraving of the DMC-12 on the back. With $16,000 in 1983, you could have bought yourself a post-bankruptcy DeLorean. Today, this chunky wristwatch will cost you almost as much.
3 of 11 Aston Martin/Jaeger-LeCoultre

Watch, James Watch

If driving an Aston Martin DBS doesn't make you feel Bondian enough, perhaps an AMVOX2 DBS Transponder watch will. The timepiece from Aston Martin and luxury-watch maker Jaeger-LeCoultre lets wannabe 007s lock and unlock their DBS coupe by pressing the open and close positions respectively on the watch's glass.

Aston Martin says the transponder module adds only a few grams to the weight of the watch and that the electronics inside have been shrunk to half the size of the same system in the DBS key. And the watch should add only about $41,000 to the DBS' $262,000 suggested retail price.

4 of 11 Louis Moinet

Louis Moinet Tourbillon Asteroid

Collectors with very deep pockets will love Louis Moinet's Meteoris Solar System, which is not only a mechanical planetarium representing the solar system but also an extraordinary showcase for four dazzling timepieces including the Tourbillon Asteroid, seen here.

The Tourbillon Asteroid's dial encompasses a handcrafted piece of the Itqiy meteorite, which fell in Western Sahara in 1990. In addition to 56 diamonds, it features an 18-karat white-gold case, visible main spring, and tourbillon escapement. You can pick it up with the entire Meteoris collection for a cool $4.9 million.

5 of 11 RJ-Romain Jerome

A hand toward retro games

If you and your wrist don't have millions to spend on a space-themed watch, consider the RJ-Romain Jerome Space Invaders model, a tribute to the arcade classic, which goes for a mere $17,900. The steel timepiece features real fragments of the Apollo 11 lunar module, and the designer took things a step further by modeling the four joints of the watch after the legs of the lunar lander. To top off the extravagance, the back of the watch contains low-oxidation silver mixed with real moon rocks, specially patterned like the lunar surface.
6 of 11 Bernhard Lederer Universe

Orbiting tourbillon

Apparently, there's always space for another intergalactic watch. In 2011, on the 50th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man to orbit the Earth, the Gagarin Tourbillon celebrated the milestone with a delightfully complex design. The highlight of the high-end luxury watch: The flying tourbillon that "orbits" around the watch dial, which bears the names of places and cities Gagarin passed in his Vostok-1 spacecraft back in 1961.
7 of 11 Ressence

Liquid wonder

The Ressence Type 3 might not have a complex movement, but it has eye-catching looks. The fluorescent discs displaying seconds, minutes, hours, and days rotate in a pool of clear synthetic oil that's capped by a sapphire crystal. It winds automatically, so there's no crown. It's priced around $34,000.
8 of 11 Breva

Luxury weather forecaster

Housed in an opulent 18-karat gold case, the Genie 01 from Breva sports an anaerobic barometer, altimeter, and power reserve indicator along with its mechanical movement. Upcoming weather is forecast in a dial on the right side of the face.
9 of 11 HYT

Bellows power

Last year, boutique brand HYT launched the prizewinning H1, the first mechanical watch to use liquid to indicate the time. Its successor is the H2, pictured here, which also exposes its innards for all to see. The unusual bellows, arranged in a V shape, push a liquid through an external ring to indicate the hour; a minute hand jumps from position to position, and there's also a fluid temperature gauge.

The H2 is limited to 50 pieces, each around 90,000 Swiss francs ($95,150).

10 of 11 Speake-Marin

The Triad

Speake-Marin's Triad is a nod to musical notes and the three elements of a basic chord. Indeed, the hour and minute hands are repeated three times, interlocking in an intricate mesh of gears. It has an 18-karat gold bezel, 35 jewels, and 120 hours of power reserve.
11 of 11 Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer MikroPendulum S

We all admire precision engineering. Tag Heuer spent years working on what it calls the first mechanical watch that functions with a magnetic oscillator and no hairspring. There are 10 patents pending on the MikroPendulum S, a deluxe concept timepiece that sports two magnetic pendulums set on rose-gold bridges, as well as chronograph and power reserve features, in a brushed anthracite dial. With 75 jewels and 454 components, this is a watch geek's dream.

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